Monday, May 12, 2014
Cleaning to me is part of decorating. I go through the house and tidy things up and make them look pleasant to the eyes. Home decorating is a way to create a nice atmosphere for the family. This is done without money. It is done everyday when the chairs are made neat and pillows are fluffed. It is when furniture polish makes surfaces bright and gleaming in the afternoon sun. It creates an ambiance.
I clean throughout the day, or else things will get out of control. I clean whenever I see something out of place, as I walk by the way. (Of course, stopping at a certain hour to end the day's work and enjoy some leisurely rest.) I clean a neat home, but of course the work is a little harder at mealtime when the most work is needed to be done.
But nobody wants to clean a mess.
We have all walked into an unattended kitchen and seen spills and crumbs and dishes all over the place. This is a messy mess and no one wants to go in there. Very often this happens when it has been left to the care of children or teenagers. They just don't have the experience to keep things nice and keep messes decent.
We have also seen a child's bedroom that looked like a tornado had been there. No housekeeper would walk in there without sighing. This is not a pleasant type of cleaning! So we call in the child and we put them through a training session. I love to make these humorous. I will say to the child, "I wonder what happened in here?" To which the child will shrug and look around to survey the damage. It is almost like the child was oblivious to the mess until mother pointed it out. I smile and say, "Well, let's clean this together." Do you know why I don't demand the child do it alone? Because that would be unfair and too much. It is obvious that help is needed to get things under control. I also use this time to re-teach how to do the work. And lecture about cleanliness. This not only gets the message through, but sometimes bores the child so much they would rather have the room kept clean than have mother talk about cleaning for hours! (gentle smiles)
I will show the child how to make the bed by taking all the bedding and throw it on the floor. I will put on a sheet, arrange the pillow and make the bed. I will talk while I do it, as if I am sharing how to make a meal from a recipe. When it looks nice and neat, I will say something like, "See? Doesn't that look better?" When the child's face brightens (probably because he thinks he got out of making his own bed), I will say, "Now it's your turn." I will take all the bedding and throw it back on the floor. Then I will watch and direct while the child remakes his own bed.
Next we go to the bureau drawers. I start with one drawer. We sort the junk from the clothes and fold and make things neat. Then I take it all back out and put it on the floor. The child redoes each drawer on his own, just like we made the bed.
We go on to the bookcase, the floor, and all through the room until I have shown how to clean it all, and the child has redone my work.
Granted, I must have time to do all this, and it only happens a couple of times a year. But once the training session is done, that child does not want to hear me say, on another day, "Hey, do you want me to help you clean your room?" (smiles) Because now they have learned that it is quicker and easier to just do it on their own.
We can do this with any room in the house - the kitchen, the living room. We can re-do jobs with the children until they are ready to take on the chores responsibly and on their own. Children should be taught to spend between one and two hours a day in personal cleanliness and chores. This is something they will have to do all through their lives.
However, sometimes when we mothers are too overwhelmed, sick, or tired, we might just walk into one of those messy rooms, sigh, and say we will work on it later. We will just have to make that mess look pretty, rest up, and then get the help from the family to retrain and make the home look nice again.
This, of course, is the training ground for children to gain an excellent work ethic. These skills we teach, to have a clean home where their own labor made it happen, is what helps build character.
From the Archives -
Mother's Christian Example in the Home - The last Witness of an Era.
Pleasant Times - The Parlour in the Morning.
Motherhood - What I Learned from My Husband's Weariness.
Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."
An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email.